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Obesity raises heart attack risk independent of other factors

Obesity raises the chance of heart attack regardless whether a person has the cluster of cardiovascular risk factors known as metabolic syndrome, according to a study that challenges previous beliefs.

Metabolic syndrome, a condition that includes high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, accounts for 12 percent to 26 percent of the risk of heart attack and heart disease from being overweight and obese, researchers found.

The rest of the increased risk is mostly due to body mass index, said Borge Nordestgaard of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, senior author of the study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The findings counter previous assumptions that, as long as a person didn't have the risk factors of metabolic syndrome, being overweight was generally inconsequential to cardiovascular health.

About 78 million U.S. adults are considered obese, more than 50 million of them non-Hispanic white, the National Center for Health Statistics reported. -- Bloomberg News